Filipino firm to help Papua New Guinea build rice industry

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 September) – SeedWorks, an agricultural company engaged in the breeding and production of hybrid rice in the country, will provide farmers in Papua New Guinea with technical assistance and technology to capacitate them on rice farming, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

MinDA Secretary Emmanuel, former Agriculture Secretary, struck a deal with Robert Agarobe, Central Province Governor of the Papua New Guinea early this month in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea for the shipment of 5,000 metric tons of Mindanao rice, including RC-160, 7-Tonner, Banaybanay, Dinorado and organic rice amid the falling rice prices due to the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law.

Prices of rice have gone down due to the influx of imported rice in markets like the Matina Public Market in Davao City. When former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol assumed as head of the Mindanao Development Authority in August, he urged farmers of Mindanao to export their rice to Papua New Guinea to cushion the effect of the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law, which allowed entry of more imported rice to the local market. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Remus Morandante, the company’s vice president for public and government affairs, in an interview on Wednesday said the firm wishes to replicate the good practices and the technology employed by rice farmers in Mindanao in Papua New Guinea.

He said Papua New Guinea has a vast potential for rice production but remains a net importer, averaging 400,000 metric tons annually from Australia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

He said SeedWorks, a company based in Laguna and a major supplier of hybrid seeds to rice farmers in Mindanao, has initiated a series of trainings with some farmers in Papua New Guinea. He said field trials are scheduled next month.

He said the company’s market share in Mindanao averages 40%.

Upon assuming as MinDA head in August, Piñol urged rice farmers of Mindanao to export their rice to Papua New Guinea instead to cushion the effect of the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law, which allowed entry of more imported rice to the local market.

He said the consumers would prefer cheaper imported rice to local rice.

Piñol said MinDA and private groups, including an organic rice farmers’ cooperative, will hold a one-day forum on organic and premium rice and Adlai farming dubbed “Looking beyond Rice Liberalization: Growing and Marketing of Premium, Organic Rice and Adlai” at the Grand Regal Hotel here on Friday.

He said the forum marks a shift in the direction of “rice farming in Mindanao, as the massive inflow of imported rice has boxed out local farmers producing ordinary rice from the market resulting in very low farm gate prices, to as low as P10 to P12 in many parts in Mindanao.”

The shift to premium and organic rice farming in Mindanao is expected to open a niche market for health conscious consumers, a market opportunity for rice farmers affected by the rice liberalization, he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)